Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 3 recap – “The Fruit Stand Riot”

May 2, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Epix, Weekly TV
4

Summary

“The Fruit Stand Riot” forefronts a ridiculous act of racial prejudice which puts everyone from Bumpy and Chin to Malcolm and Powell on the same page.

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4

Summary

“The Fruit Stand Riot” forefronts a ridiculous act of racial prejudice which puts everyone from Bumpy and Chin to Malcolm and Powell on the same page.

This recap of Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 3, “The Fruit Stand Riot”, contains spoilers.


Things are going well in Harlem — about as well as they ever do, anyway. Bumpy’s new arrangement with Chin is making them both plenty of money and letting them eat dinner with their families every night in safety. Mayme is still working with Congressman Powell to ensure that all Harlem citizens of color have the right to vote, and Bumpy has just delivered an envelope containing $10,000 to help that cause. Elise is still bonding with Margaret, who seems to have an admirer in the young Black boy working a street fruit stand. But that’s where problems begin to emerge. The boy pocketing an apple gets him accused of theft, and the accusation gets him and the local shoeshine man, Cecil, a beatdown from the cops. “A hundred years ago the Klan wore white sheets,” says Elise, explaining what happened to Bumpy, “Well, in Harlem they dress in blue.”

As Malcolm explains to Cassius, this kind of thing is the crux of his issue with Elijah Muhammad, with whom he has a meeting that day during which he intends to say he has Cassius’s support. Malcolm believes that the Nation has a responsibility to respond to white oppression directly, and with violence if necessary. When he later meets with the Holy Apostle, he’s told that he’ll be welcomed back into the Nation as long as he ceases the political nature of his rhetoric, which is probably asking a lot from Malcolm X, of all people. When Elijah Muhammad bestows a new name upon Cassius, Muhammad Ali, he’s also rejecting Malcolm’s retitling of him as Cassius X. He’s rejecting Malcolm’s — and Cassius’s — righteous anger over the so-called “fruit stand riot”, and threatening Malcolm, once again, with being cast out of the Nation if he doesn’t silence himself.

There are issues among the Italians in Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 3, also, especially since Chin has brought Benny back from Florida with a bag of oranges and a business proposition in the form of “loops”, little porno reels that play at peep shows. Chin is against p*********y, believing it to be a perversion, but he’s willing to get involved just to get on Bonanno’s nerves since Joe is already involved in the racket. He sets Benny to it, but alongside a reluctant Ernie Nunzie, who, rightly, is worried that Benny’s return is going to send Stella into a tailspin. And it does. The first thing she does when she realizes Benny is back is ask Ernie to kill him, which is a ridiculous proposition since Benny is a made man, but he’s so easy to dislike that the prospect seems tempting. Stella is adamant that she’s going to do the deed herself, including telling her Uncle Louie and Teddy’s mother that she plans to.

To help solve the problem with Cecil and the fruit stand kid, who have been locked up at the 27th Precinct, Bumpy shows up there with Archie Gaines citing penal codes and asking to see the victims. Cecil’s in a bad way and probably on the verge of death, but the cops, much less Mills, their most enthusiastic proponent, won’t give him medical attention beyond a bandage. Bumpy assures him that if Cecil dies, his death will be on Mills, whose insistence that Cecil incited a riot doesn’t hold much water. Not that it needs to in ’60s Harlem. Powell is powerless to intervene since the “fruit stand riot” is being deemed a police matter, so he and Mayme are organizing a sit-in at the precinct, which Bumpy thinks is a waste of time when “street justice” will get the job done. It’s hard to argue with the logic, if not the morality.

Chin can’t help Bumpy by bribing Mills, even to keep their arrangement on good terms. Even Malcolm and Cassius are reluctant since Elijah Muhammad is determined to promote Islam as a religion of peace, and he only wants to rattle the white power structure when they’re truly ready. But when will that be, argues Bumpy, and how many innocent men like Cecil need to die in the meantime? Chin does, admittedly, try to make Mills take action, but he’s totally unwilling to do any favors for Chin’s “n*gger friends”, who he considers to be “savages” and “animals”. If anything, this kind of thing is only making Chin and Bumpy’s relationship stronger, even if Mills figures that relationship out and chases down Bumpy for his cut. Naturally, his pad is higher, and he makes a point of insulting Margaret for having a “white girls name” when he collars Bumpy in the street about it. Bumpy goes straight to Chin for Mills’s address, and asks him, just for once, “put yourself in my f*cking shoes.”

Things get chaotic towards the end of Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 3. Powell, Mayme, and the mothers of the boys arrested at the fruit stand riot stage their sit-in at the precinct. Just as the officers get sick of their songs and plan to move them on, Bumpy and Malcolm arrive. “Are you here to sit in, brother Malcolm?” asks Mills smugly. “Oh no, we’re not here to sit in. We’re here to stand up.” Bumpy hands Mills an envelope containing a note reading, “Call home.” One of Bumpy’s men has his wife and kids hostage. Needless to say, Cecil gets the medical attention he needs.

And then there’s Stella, who puts Ernie in an impossible position by turning up to assassinate Benny. She puts a bullet through his leg, but Ernie finishes him off, which will presumably cause all manner of troubles for the two of them. But she puts a bullet through his loops for good measure.

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